The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate

The Guardian reports that Prince Charles’ household is described as ‘elitist’. I didn’t realize the Sexual Discrimination Act applied there, but of course it does.

bq. Ms Day told the tribunal the royal household was run in an “Edwardian” fashion. She said: “It’s hierarchical, elitist, everyone knows their place and if we forget our place the system will punish us.”

Well, I thought that was the whole idea.

bq. The prince wrote: “What is wrong with everyone nowadays? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?

bq. “This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centred system which admits no failure. People think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability.

bq. “This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.” The memo concludes: “What on earth am I to tell Elaine? She is so PC it frightens me rigid.”

bq. [Most hymnals omit the following verse] [Click on MIDI at ‘Bright and Beautiful’ by William H. Munk for the better tune]

bq. The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

23 thoughts on “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate

  1. The prince wrote: “What is wrong with everyone nowadays? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?”

    Such as, to take an example other than at random, to set oneself up as an authority on education (to say nothing of architecture, and I wish he would) on the basis of having been born to a particular choice of parents?

  2. Yes, the architecture did go through my mind. I think I’ve given up on education. But that was the beauty of that statement. Were this an elegant blog, I would have quoted only that soundbite and left it to speak for itself.

  3. Maragret

    I think HRH is quite right. The British Blairite education system does tell kids they can do anything and become anything: megabucks-earning footballers, popstars, Internet millionaires…..without adding that they can only do this if they are good enough, intelligent enough and capable. Everyone should have the same chance…great …but not everyone is capable of holding down a particular job. Taking recourse to a discrimination tribunal just because one is not up to the job is pretty pathetic. Carry on the good work Charlie….


  4. I can’t remember noticing people being told they can become X, without it also being added that they have to be good enough to become X in the first place.

    In what ways has the Blairite education system been misleading people?

  5. It’s true that the woman may not have a case – we don’t know – she may. And it may be true that many kids believe they can become millionaires, although I would put that down to common human delusion rather than any particular education system. But those words in Prince Charles’ mouth are pretty ironic, aren’t they?

  6. Margaret and others….why shouldn’t Prince Charles make this statement simply because he happens to be rich and priviledged? “This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centred system which admits no failure” … he is, in my humble opinion, absolutely right. Why should an incompetent person be promoted just because he/she interprets non-promotion as discriminiation? Kids these days are under the assumption that money drops from the sky … failure is not an option …well, as we all know, money does not and failure unfortunately is. If someone is willing to work hard and learn then they deserve a job up to their capability. We are not all rocket-scientist or even translator material … and I’m sorry if that sounds elitist and “Edwardian”…but it’s true


  7. I don’t know if you read the whole article, Paul. She is claiming sex discrimination because she was touched up by one of the staff who was known for this. As for dismissal, she worked there five years (this is all hearsay, of course) as a personal assistant and she made a suggestion to another member of staff that personal assistants with university degrees, like herself, should be given a chance to train to be private secretaries. If this led to her dismissal, I don’t think much of it. I think employees should be able to make suggestions without being treated differently afterwards. I’m sure Prince Charles’ household isn’t the only place where this occurs, though.
    I don’t believe she interpreted non-promotion as discrimination – the discrimination was one thing, and the unfair dismissal (not non-promotion) the other.
    Of course, we don’t know how reliable her case is.

  8. Sounds to me as if child-centred learning is being confused with something completely different. Rather than in days of yore, when the view was that the teacher was the font of all knowledge and that they’d somehow ‘transmit’ what they knew to the bored little people around them, methodology nowadays aims at involving the children in their own education and making it relevant to them. It does not have as one of its ambitions the intention to somehow ‘make children delusional’.

    I fail to see any connection, in fact, between child-centred learning and anyone overestimating their own abilities in life. The only person who really appears to be delusional is Prince Charles himself, who thinks that his opinion is worth listening to.

    Admittedly, this memo was not meant for the public, but the fact that his lordship would consider his own opinions worthy of thrusting upon his private staff in an internal memo is bad enough, in my opinion. If he wasn’t who he is, he wouldn’t have even made it to Cambridge, by the way – not with his A-level results! Perhaps he would have benefited from child-centred learning!

  9. Truly, I find it hard to view this as anything more than farce. First the complaint that the prince’s household is heirarchical and elitist (duh) and then a member of the royal family complaining that people aren’t willing to earn their credentials, that there is a myth of genetic engineering afoot. It’s all very astonishing really. Thanks for the post.

  10. Margaret and others

    I note that the British press in particular seem to be interpreting the Prince’s comments as “no one should strive to achieve something beyond their station”. Where does this slant on things come from for heaven’s sake? The Prince was certainly not quoted as saying that. The whole thing seems to be a misquote. I could certainly side with opponents of that, if he had said such a thing. But he did not. And that’s the point.


  11. David…

    >>methodology nowadays aims at involving the children in their own education and making it relevant to them

  12. I don’t know if they do actually have a weaker grasp of these things nowadays, or if industry is expecting more. Or hasn’t industry always complained about these things? I think that if you examined the basic abilities of every age group you’d find that there are problems across the board.

    If there are problems, though, I’d suggest that they could be due in part to the children’s parents allowing them to spend so much time watching TV and playing computer games, which you can hardly blame on the methodology used within the school system.

    Another problem could be due to the ever-changing national curriculum, and the additional pressures put on teachers to prepare pupils for pointless exams at an all-too-young age, while still trying to provide the pupils with a well-rounded education.

    Is it possible to do a GCSE in Social Science? Wow, that would be cool – I imagine it would be a lovely mixture of psychology, sociology and linguistics. I’m not sure it does exist, actually, although I think it should, mainly for the education of the child as a whole person (who will then be better positioned to take up employment alongside other people).

  13. Paul: the slant on “no one should strive to achieve something beyond their station” is the Guardian’s slant, but it’s taken from the woman’s case. According to her, she asked this question as to whether she and others could be trained for promotion – i.e. promotion was reserved for those with connections, I presumed – and maybe it was in the same period that she complained about the male colleague molesting her. Prince Charles’ reaction was apparently fear and loathing. Instead of simply saying, ‘No, you can’t train’, he wrote this internal memo and she later felt she was victimized and dismissed for some mistake she made where another person would not have been. She said she felt she could not rise above her station. So the case is that Prince Charles behaved that way. It’s a bizarre case, really, because I would have thought he had a fair amount of freedom with his private staff.

    There was some similar behaviour described in the book by the housekeeper that was banned in Britain, which I read – it’s quite a good read, and it’s not particularly nasty to Charles and Diana. It seems to me that some people who Charles felt got on better with Diana were no longer kept on although they could have been, and I think at the thank-you dinner for staff the author was put in a side room.

  14. The astonishing thing about this case is that it was allowed to proceed in the first place against a Royal Household – and without being branded treasonable as it might have been, even in the Swinging Sixties last Millennium.

    Other good points are that, even if brought against the complainant’s direct employer, the case reflects the trend away from Royal immunity – like the Queen’s voluntary agreement to pay taxes – and that the Royal Family are being held legally accountable.

    It will be interesting to see if Ms. Day wins compensation and the award is voluntarily paid by Prince Charles. Under the UK Crown Proceedings Act 1947, judgements in contract & tort are unenforceable against the Crown.

  15. And I think the last time (or several times) someone had sex with the wife of the heir to the throne, the penalty of hanging for treason had not yet been abolished.
    But Charles isn’t the Crown, surely?

  16. To all those interested:
    Please note that, today, HRH will be making a speech in defence of his views and attempting to point out that he did not say what he was reported by certain media to have said. This speech will certainly be aired on most British TV news channels.


  17. The speech was reported in the Sunday papers, although he may deviate from it. On the whole it was described as OK, but he was criticized for not apologizing, and quoted as saying it’s just as good to be a bricklayer as to be a judge.

  18. But the whole point is that he didn’t say it. He wrote it. He’ll have to claim his memo was a forgery – and that Ms Day’s Solicitors fell for it.

  19. Well, it has been admitted that the memo was genuine and he did write it. What he did not say was ‘No-one should aim above their station’ – that was the interpretation that Elaine Day put on his memo.

  20. Margaret

    I’m still unsure what he should apoligise about. In my view: zero – zilch – nothing at all.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.